Australia Recognizes ‘West Jerusalem’ as Israel’s Capital, Won’t Move Embassy
by Benjamin Kerstein
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Saturday that his country now recognizes western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech.
“It is the right of every country to determine its national capital,” he added.
Unlike the earlier US recognition of Jerusalem, Morrison announced that Australia will not be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
“We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status determination,” he said, linking such a move to the peace process.
Morrison added, however, “The international community must move beyond ritual denunciations of Israel to urge a return to negotiations of a two state solution.”
Morrison’s move first surfaced in October, when it was viewed cynically in Australia because it came days before a crucial by-election in an electorate with a strong Jewish representation. His party lost that poll.
At the time, Bill Shorten of Australia’s opposition Labor party said the move was a “reckless and foolish action … confusing [Morrison’s] own political interest with our national interests.”
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed Saturday’s move was born of Australian “petty domestic politics.”
“All of Jerusalem remains a final-status issue for negotiations, while East Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” he asserted.